Padilla, Feinstein Push for Disaster Supplemental Funding to Help Communities Rebuild From Destructive 2020 Wildfires

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in pressing President Biden to provide additional relief to states struggling with the impact of extreme drought and wildfires.

In 2020, California faced some of the largest, record-breaking wildfires in state history – including 6 of the top 20 largest wildfires to ever occur in the state.

“We write to urge to you to provide relief to states that are struggling with the impact of extreme drought and wildfire this summer and uncompensated damage from past wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and storms. We urge you to request additional funding to meet those needs,” the senators wrote.

They continued, “While in most cases the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has delivered substantial emergency relief to affected communities, the scale of natural disasters experienced in 2020 demands additional resources that can only be delivered through a disaster supplemental.”

According to the Drought Monitor, over half of the United States is currently experiencing a historic drought. Over 95 percent of the West is now either abnormally dry or in a drought—making current conditions among the most dry within the past two decades. A disaster supplemental could be used to fund major programs through FEMA, USDA including WHIP+, and others.   

U.S. Senators representing wildfire-prone states across the West joined Padilla, Feinstein, Merkley and Wyden in the letter: Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

Text of the letter is available here and follows below.

Dear President Biden:

We write to urge to you to provide relief to states that are struggling with the impact of extreme drought and wildfire this summer and uncompensated damage from past wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and storms. We urge you to request additional funding to meet those needs.

According to the Drought Monitor, over half of the United States is experiencing a historic drought. About 90% of the West is now either abnormally dry or in a drought, which is among the highest percentages in the past 20 years. In addition, almost 600,000 acres of forests and rangelands have been burned by wildfire over the past year. The scale and nature of the problem is quickly outpacing the availability of funding and authorities of federal agencies.

In addition to the escalating impact of this year’s drought and wildfires, many states and communities never received supplemental relief for damage for disasters in 2020. While in most cases the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has delivered substantial emergency relief to affected communities, the scale of natural disasters experienced in 2020 demands additional resources that can only be delivered through a disaster supplemental.

We thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you on this important issue.

Sincerely,

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